NBA Summer League Betting Tip: Target Unpopular Underdogs


Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dylan Windler

  • The 2019 NBA Summer League has tipped.
  • Using Bet Labs, we share a profitable against the spread betting system for these exhibition games.

Where will star free agent Kawhi Leonard land? While we wait on the board man’s decision, let’s make money betting on the NBA Summer League.

The Summer League is random. There’s a lack of familiarity among players, and teams have varying levels of motivation to perform. This often leads to increased variance, which favors underdogs.

Since we began tracking results in 2016, underdogs in these exhibition games have gone 166-105-7 (61.3%) against the spread (ATS) according to Bet Labs. Betting unpopular underdogs has been the most consistent way to cash tickets in Vegas.

Underdogs receiving less than 50% of tickets often see the line move against them, meaning they become bigger underdogs. In our database, the line has increased by at least a 0.5-point for more than 70% of unpopular underdogs. This makes it easier for these squads to cover.

The fewer bets an underdog is receiving, the more profitable they have been:

Before you rush to the ticket window, it’s important to remember we’re dealing with a small sample size. Three years of data isn’t much, so proceed with caution.

Also, the NBA has changed the Summer League schedule.

Four teams are participating in the California Classic, while four other franchises are attending the Salt Lake City Summer League before all 30 teams and two national teams, China and Croatia, participate in a tournament that features four preliminary games to determine seeding. The league adopted this format in 2018.

Unpopular underdogs that participated in the California Classic and Salt Lake City Summer League went 5-1 (83.3%) ATS while in the tournament these teams had a 36-28-2 (56.3%) ATS record.

It’s hard to draw definitive conclusions from the data, but perhaps the motivation of improving one’s seeding then advancing in the tournament is enough to make teams try harder, which limits the upside of betting underdogs once the tournament begins.

This is something bettors should consider when pondering a wager on unpopular Summer League underdogs, especially when the Las Vegas Summer League tips on Friday, July 5.

There are four California Classic and Salt Lake City Summer League games scheduled for Wednesday. Check our live odds page for updated odds and betting percentages.

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